Gainesville: Dixon set for win

GAINESVILLE, FL (Mar. 17) -- For the second time inthe last two events on the Winston NHRA Drag Racing Series, Larry Dixon qualified the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster in the No. 2 position with his lap of 4.588 seconds at 316.38 mph at...

GAINESVILLE, FL (Mar. 17) -- For the second time inthe last two events on the Winston NHRA Drag Racing Series, Larry Dixon qualified the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster in the No. 2 position with his lap of 4.588 seconds at 316.38 mph at the 32nd Annual Mac Tools Gatornationals held at Gainesville Raceway.

Dixon began the final day of qualifying as the No. 2 seed thanks to his run of 4.588 seconds set during Friday's afternoon session. Similar weather conditions would greet Dixon and the Miller Lite Team on Saturday as they took the track in search of Dixon's ninth career pole position.

The opening round of Top Fuel qualifying saw the Dick LaHaie-tuned dragster cruise down the right lane to a time of 4.703 seconds at 312.06 mph. Despite slowing down from his earlier time, Dixon was one of the few Dragsters in the 18-car Top Fuel field to make it down the track in the third session. The team's final attempt at climbing the ladder was concluded just minutes before rain interrupted the final round of qualifying for the Funny Car class. Dixon's final pass was not as successful as his previous ones as the car lost traction and he shut off to a time of 10.815 seconds at 82.70 mph.

"Well, I guess looking back on it, it was a big deal getting that one (4).58 in," said Dixon. "On every particular run we had different things happen. The first run we were running on seven cylinders, the next run we ran a .58. On our first run today it was really hot and there was a little bit of oil and it was kinda slick down towards the top end so we spun the tires. Tonight, the cloud cover came over and the rainstorm was coming in and it just hopped the air up and our engine just made a ton more power than we were prepared for. The air changed 400 feet from the time we left the pit area to the time we fired the car up, so its hard to compensate when the weather changes that much, but you are not as panicked about it when you have a good run under your belt."

"When it puts cylinders out on the top end it's because of not having a good air-fuel mixture. It doesn't hurt you too bad, maybe .01-.02 on the elapsed time. But when it happens on the starting line like it did on our early run yesterday (4.799 seconds) it kills .2 of a second. Our engines make 6,000 horsepower and when you take one of those cylinders away, it makes a lot less power and it effects the E.T. a lot. When it happens on the top end it doesn't effect you as much because you have momentum built up already."

With the No. 2-seed, Dixon will square off with No. 15 Bobby Baldwin for the second time this season and the fourth time in his career. Dixon won this season's previous meeting with Baldwin with his opening round victory at the Winternationals in Pomona, CA. For his career, Dixon holds an undefeated mark in four total meetings.

A win at Gainesville on Sunday would be Dixon's first of the season and the seventh-year driver would like nothing more. "A win here would be great, I mean that's what we're looking for," said Dixon. "We have a really good car and that's evidenced by how we have been qualifying so far this year. It's just a matter of putting together four good runs on race day. Hopefully this place will give it to us."

Dixon,the 1995 Gatornationals Top Fuel Champ, currently sits fourth in the Winston Points race. LaHaie was a two-time Top Fuel finalist and the 1985 Top Fuel Champ. Prudhomme won a total of five Funny Car titles (1974-76, 80, 87) and reached one Top Fuel final (1991).

ESPN is scheduled to broadcast Sunday's elimination rounds tomorrow from 5-7 PM ET.

-Snake Racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Dick LaHaie